Accentuating the community with art

Accentuating the community with art
Suki Berry (left) with art instructor Jerm a.k.a. “Mr. Wright.” Courtesy photo

Art instructor Jerm a.k.a. “Mr. Wright” insists he learns more from his students than they do from him. However, current and former San Dieguito Academy students who have acquired essential lessons from his art classes would beg to differ. In equipping students with life skills, Wright accentuates the community aspects of art through his art leadership program. Wright stresses the value of relationships with people in their community. “It’s the Who-You-Know’s that give you the opportunity, and then you step up and give it your best shot.”

Actively encouraging students’ involvement in community, Wright organized the Art Wars Club in 2006 to promote art leadership through project organization, execution and art statement. He considers spectators an integral part of the project and asserts, “Art Wars events are about pulling people together.”

Artist Jerm Wright’s banner, “Gooooood morning Vietnam.” Courtesy photo

Wright practices his own advice as his artistic visibility increases. Numerous community connections have opened doors and offered encouragement along the way. “Going all-out” for his art exhibit at the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association office paved the way for a subsequent Encinitas Library show, which recently culminated in a Live Action Series event at Oceanside Museum of Art.

A Leucadia native, Wright delights in transforming local eyesores into works of art. His mural at the corner of 101 at Leucadia Boulevard and a San Elijo Lagoon manhole cover are examples of Wright’s work that can be seen around town. His first Arts Alive banner “Goooood Morning, Vietnam!” is currently displayed near Swami’s Cafe.

Wright’s mission in the SDA art department is for every student to find his or her individual voice. By creating an atmosphere of freedom to explore their creativity, he leaves a great deal of space for students to grow. Wright wins students over by making their learning experiences fun while de-emphasizing technicalities. He reasons, “If they love the creative process, students will find the technical aspects along the way.” His goal is not that his students become professional artists, but that they discover personal fulfillment through lifelong creative expression.

One of Wright’s current students who has taken these lessons to heart is Suki Berry, SDA senior who met Wright during sculpture class her freshman year. Beginning in elementary school by designing gel pen tattoos and fairy magnets for classmates, Suki’s art career has expanded to include commissioned portraits, CD album covers, and backgrounds for iPad apps produced by Psyop Studios of Venice Beach. In addition to her professional work, she is building her portfolio with freely expressive creations while she serves as marketing president of the school’s robotics team. She enjoys putting herself into situations that stimulate learning. Suki states, “If it can be dreamed about, I can do it.” With that level of confidence, she’ll surely leave her mark in the art world.

Paying homage to movie monsters and sea creatures, Suki’s Arts Alive banner “Terror from the Deep” is located in front of Cardiff’s Chart House.

Kay Colvin is an art consultant and director of the L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. She specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists and bringing enrichment programs to elementary schools through The Kid’s College. Contact her at



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